(Photo: LifeChurch.tv via The Christian Post)
LifeChurch.tv, an Oklahoma-based megachurch that offers over 40 online church experiences a week, has applied to register the .church domain name with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
The .church domain name will enable churches around the world to continue to be progressive in the way it leverages technology to connect and help people, leaders of the high-tech megachurch said this week. The church – which has 15 campuses including in Florida, New York, Texas, and Tennessee – is also the developer of the highly popular Bible app YouVersion.
"When people are searching for answers, one of the first places they go is online. Exploring matters of faith is no exception, and many individuals experience a church's website before they ever step through its doors," said Bobby Gruenewald, Innovation Leader at LifeChurch.tv. "There are countless examples of the church creatively utilizing technology to maximize its ministry. The '.church' extension is another way the church can meet people where they are in this digital era."
Officials at LifeChurch.tv say the goal of the .church extension from ICANN is twofold.
"First of all, the '.church' extension will help churches label who they are without awkward URLs that are difficult to type or remember. Secondly, the new extension will help those searching about faith online to easily see which sites are ministry-related. With the '.church' label, churches and ministries will be able to stand apart from government entities, corporations and other organizations and allow individuals searching to clearly find what they need," states LifeChurch.tv.
Arkansas Pastor Brandon Cox, who is a managing editor of Pastors.com, an online community for pastors and church leaders, said he was excited to hear about the domain name application.
"I like the move because I think it opens up a lot of possibilities for churches in a market where domain names are becoming more and more scarce," Cox told The Christian Post. "When you are trying for '.com' or '.org,' which are the two big ones, it's harder to get your church name in those. Some church names are used commonly."
However, having a .church in the mix appears to be the solution. "Our goal is to create an Internet namespace for churches, congregations, denominations and ministries to exist," said Gruenewald.
Next year, hundreds of new top-level domains will be introduced, including brand-specific domains as well as generic domains. LifeChurch.tv gave examples of generic names like ".green," ".bank," and ".dental."
Under the LifeChurch.tv proposed .church registration, the URL would be open to churches, denominations and organizations of all faiths and religious beliefs. As a self-sustaining initiative, .church domains would be available for purchase at a reasonable cost and on a first-come, first-served basis with no auctions or bulk purchasing, church leaders said.
Gruenewald said the goal of obtaining .church is not to profit from controlling the domain with listing rights fees, reported USA Today.
"It seems they would control the market on it, but knowing LifeChurch's history, I don't think they are looking at it for the purpose of financial profit," Cox told CP. "I'm glad they are going after it because they are very Kingdom-minded. They are good people to control it."
Cox said he believes that there are several reasons that a .church domain will be beneficial to the Christian community, including giving easier accessibility, a clear identity for those using the name, and thirdly, "it just helps with the religious website niche."
FoxNews.com reported that proposals for Internet addresses ending in .pizza, .space and .auto are among the nearly 2,000 submitted as part of "the largest expansion in the online address system." The American Bible Society is applying for .bible, and looking for support at BibleTLD.org.
ICANN held a news conference Wednesday in London in which officials announced the proposals. Among the major companies seeking domain names that reflect their brands are Apple, Sony and American Express. The majority of the proposals came from North America and Europe, Fox reported. Each application is said to cost $185,000.
In order to encourage ICANN to approve the domain extension, LifeChurch.tv is encouraging individuals to voice support and spread the word, "showing a global demand for the URL."
For more information and to support the effort, click http://dotchurch.org/.