Do you want to go behind the scenes of managing internet domain names for your church? How many domain names do you have? Kenny Jahng and DJ Chuang sit down to nerd out on domain names in today's episode of the Church Online Podcast.
ABOUT .CHURCH DOMAIN NAMES
.church is a top-level domain name used by tens of thousands of churches like www.canvas.church and www.life.church to connect and engage with visitors online. As part of the Identity Digital portfolio, .church domain names come with added security and phishing protection.
SPECIAL OFFER FOR THE CHURCH TECH TODAY AUDIENCE
Search for .church at www.name.church or your favorite registrar. Use the promo code MANAGE DOMAINS at www.name.church for a discount offer made available to CTT community members.
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The following is a machine-generated transcript of the audio. We've been testing the NueralText online transcription service. Now, as you know, Machines < Humans so these transcript notes won't be 100% accurate. Probably more like 80-95% accurate. Hopefully, this will help you scan the episode content to get the gist of the conversation. Enjoy!
[00:00:01.590] – Kenny Jahng
Hey friends. This is Kenny Jahng and this is the church online podcast. Thank you for joining us for another episode. We are here today with an interesting topic for discussion with my friend DJ Chuan, who is opposite of me on the screen. Welcome DJ to the show.
[00:00:18.040] – DJ Chuang
Hello, Kenny. I'm happy to be on the show again.
[00:00:24.490] – Kenny Jahng
Now, today we're going to talk about some nuts and bolts of the Internet we have teed up as a topic here. Something that comes up actually quite often is some topics of behind the scenes of managing domain names. Well, I think that's one of the things that a lot of church staff kind of fell into a role of internet and digital stuff and sometimes there's a lot of complexities. And I'm really glad that you are available to actually come and share a little bit about it. Before we get started, let me just share a little bit about Sponsor. Today's episode is brought to us by a really good partner. It's the church top level domain name. Now, the church domain name is something that you probably are familiar with. It is used by tens of thousands of churches like Life Church or Canvas Church. And they use it to connect and engage with visitors online. And it's part of the entire portfolio over at this company, Identity Digital, which manages and offers hundreds of domain names. That church domain is one of them. And the fact that it comes with added security and phishing protection is something that we can all appreciate.
[00:01:35.590] – Kenny Jahng
Now, DJ, for those of you that don't know you, why don't you just give us a quick 32nd rundown of your backgrounds and who you are for this audience.
[00:01:46.310] – DJ Chuang
Sure. I've worked with Churches and Ministries for over 20 years now, usually helping in the space of church and technology and social media, some blogging, some podcasting, and always champion for how churches can be on the beating edge of using technology to further their mission.
[00:02:06.340] – Kenny Jahng
I love that.
[00:02:06.970] – DJ Chuang
Was that 30 seconds?
[00:02:11.740] – Kenny Jahng
As we dive into this topic, I would just like to say one of the things, DJs, you've had some extensive experience working with domain names on both the consumer side, but also like the inner workings, the inner plumbing of it. And so I love the fact that we can call on you as an expert today for some of these questions. Now, the first question I have, if we can just dive right into it, is that many churches have multiple domain names, right? It's like you got websites and then you got social media accounts and emails and databases and all this. We accumulate this stuff. It can be quite a jungle, right? Even I think I have almost 100 domain names personally. Now, can we talk about how to manage all those things? How do we manage them better beyond just keeping up with registrations renewals where you get some email reminders once in a while do you have any tips right out of the back? Can you give us some simplifying wisdom and advice?
[00:03:14.810] – DJ Chuang
Yeah, so the starting point is just tracking down and keeping a track of the domain names that belong to your church. And that could be how it works right there, because often churches have volunteers that start their website or staff that leave and don't leave behind the crucial information, the domain name information, the email address, the login with the registrar for each of those domain names that belong to the church. And then if your church is larger, let's say over a thousand, then you've got different ministries in different departments and different programs that may have also registered their own domain names but didn't check in with the office. Whatever office structure you have easily a church of, let's say, megachurch of 2000, it would not be surprising there'd be 20 or 50 or even 100 domain names for all the various ministries that have been registered over time. And so just keeping track and tracking them is the first step. And by tracking, getting a list of the domains, keeping track of the email address that's connected to that domain name, the login, the registrar, registrar would be GoDaddy, Google domain name cheap. Those are some of the most popular ones.
[00:04:44.660] – DJ Chuang
You have to keep track of all those and then the expiration date. Because this is one thing people don't say precisely correct. Which is that we don't own domain names, we actually rent them. Domain names are actually rented on an annual basis up to ten years, and you have to pay an annual fee to the Internet Corporation and the registrar, and that's what keeps the domain name running. So that would be step number one, getting those tracked and having those login information in a safe and secure location.
[00:05:22.690] – Kenny Jahng
Now, that sounds so simple and easy, right? But I will tell you, literally, last month I was contacted by a church that I used to go to back in 2007 and 2008, and I used to volunteer for the ministry there. They were asking for the login information of both their church website as well as where their domains are registered. I passed that information along, but I don't have it anymore. And here in 2022, over a decade later, they're still trying to track down some of that information. My heart is like saying for them, because I just know what a nightmare that could be if you don't have access to that. But yes, it's great to have that in a centralized location and share it with multiple people, right? Like, you just never know. The staff and the volunteers move on. Let's talk about this domain name stuff now. Can you say a little bit more about the different functions of a domain name in particular? And there's a technical thing and a registrant thing, and it gets complicated, this jargon. I wonder if you could just detangle.
[00:06:30.600] – DJ Chuang
It just a little bit for those.
[00:06:32.620] – Kenny Jahng
Of us that are walking for the.
[00:06:35.110] – DJ Chuang
First time, I want to talk about the critical things that churches and staff and volunteer need to understand in managing these domain names and the functions that they can provide. Because it's taken me nine years to learn about all the inner workings of domain. I'm not going to download all nine years. I've gotten a better sense of what's critical and what's just deep talk. And so the first one we talked about tracking the domain names and keeping them registered. And then on an annual basis you want to evaluate, do you want to keep them or let them expire? So that would be one evaluation point for the list of domains. And then in terms of functions, domain names have what's called a who is record and those are the authoritative contacts that have an email address, an address and a phone number that are associated with each domain name. So there's the registrar who is actually the person that registers the domain name and that's the person that gets the super admin access to manage the domain name. So most registrars will recognize that email account or that phone number to verify, hey, you're the real registrar registrant.
[00:08:02.020] – DJ Chuang
So they use all these terms that are registry registrar registrant. So it can get a bit confusing because they all start with the same route, but they serve different functions. So to make sure the owner of the domain, temporary owner is the authority paid person, registrant information must be up to date. And then there's some associated contact information, technical contact, admin contact, and then billing contact. For today's purpose, get all of them to be the same would be the easier way to manage them. But for a large organization, you might want to have those as separate functions. Especially you have a separate person that's handling billing or separate person that's handling registration, separate person handling tech. Then you might assign those different people. But then again, keep that on your tracking sheet because that's critical information for you to keep your internet presence up to date because that's as important as your physical building.
[00:09:11.440] – Kenny Jahng
Yeah. Frankly speaking, how often have you been contacted for legitimate reason on one of those registrant technical or billing contact information, when does that typically get triggered?
[00:09:26.960] – DJ Chuang
Well, the registry information registrant is when the domain needs to be renewed and the second when you need to change the settings on the domain technical is when you change the settings on the domain. But depending on the registrar. Here's the other crazy thing about domains. Every registrar has their own lingo and their own authorization process. Some will contact the technical person, some will contact the registrant. Registrant is typically the most authoritative person that the technical people will verify that you should have access. So in the case of losing your password, while the restaurant has the best chance of getting the password reset. So that's a quick snapshot.
[00:10:24.710] – Kenny Jahng
Yeah. Now there needs to be an owner. Like you said, someone needs to chase all this down useful help and also syndicate the information elsewhere. What would you recommend, for example, for a church that might not have an It staff? Not every church has It members or tech staff, et cetera. Sometimes they outsource it, sometimes they don't. It's just assumed it's the guy that has the Mac in the room or who has the PC in the one. That's a little bit more than everybody else, right? Most churches don't have an It staff. What would you recommend for a church that does not have an It staff handy? How do they approach all this stuff?
[00:11:05.510] – DJ Chuang
Well, sometimes you need It help. So there are volunteers that are technically competent. There are contractors that are competent. So I'm kind of a contractor. I do a lot of freelance work with different clients. So that's a conversation that people have with me where I could help them for a short term and then there's part time staff that is starting to become a thing. So churches can actually hire part time staff on a contract like $500 a month or 1000 month and maintain their social media, maintain their website and that kind of thing. So they don't have to pay a full time staff or even half time staff. They can just outsource certain functions to help with those things. Now, I do want to take a step back and say, well, what are the functions? Well, two things. So one, you as the church make sure you have the master key, which is the domain registration and admin. As long as you have that master key, all the other functions you can get it taken care of with It staff. But keep that master key which is making sure you have login information to the domain name registration which is at the registrar.
[00:12:27.490] – DJ Chuang
Registrar is the GoDaddy, the Google domains. The namecheap pork bun is a new one that's becoming popular. Now, inside of that domain registration there's a couple of different things that I will mention that's good to know but a bit technical. So it's good to know that every domain name has a pair of name servers. So name servers actually connect to the domain name and hold the authoritative records of the functions that the domain name will serve. Typically that's at the registrar. Sometimes if you're really technical you want those name servers at a different place than the registrar for security purposes. So the really technical people want everything in separate locations so that in case to one places bonds, the other is still safe. And then on those name servers are what's called DNS records, domain name service records, DNS records. So in those DNS records that's where you set the web hosting information, that's where you set the email hosting information and that's where you set the subdomain information and email verification. Information and website information verification information. Those are called records, DNS records. When you're setting up a web host or when someone's helping you set up, they're putting in information into those DNS records, a records, c name records, TXT records.
[00:14:21.580] – DJ Chuang
So I'm just giving you some lingo so that next time you hear it, it won't be, what in the world is that? You've heard it here and I've explained it briefly. Yes, that's what points to your website hosting, your email hosting, your subdomains, which can go to, let's say, your shortcut URLs. You can use shortcut domains, sub domains to point to sections of your website, landing pages, online streaming, so subdomains can come in handy for that. But just to give you a back story, back end of what happens with these domain names and how they function in your church website, email addresses, and then you can connect other functions like Google Workspace or Dropbox or Live Stream.
[00:15:28.310] – Kenny Jahng
So if I practically don't have staff, you're saying, let's find some volunteers first. There's surely someone in the community that might be a little bit more digitally native or web friendly, and then there's parttimers, and then there's consultants, et cetera. Do you think it's important for the pastor or the person who is in charge of the website to at least understand all this jargon, all this glossary of words that we're talking about today? Or do you think it's okay to actually at least have one contact person to rely on, outsource that type of responsibility?
[00:16:12.490] – DJ Chuang
I would say that you don't need to know all the jargon. What you do need to have is the master key, make sure you know the domain names you have, how to log in to administrate them, and then everything else can be delegated to a trusted person to manage. So that would be the short answer to that. Okay, in a small team, you'll need to understand some of those technical details.
[00:16:42.710] – Kenny Jahng
Right now, on my side, like I said, I think I own almost 100 domain names right now. But what about for sure, in every church that I've been a part of, they own multiple domains, like you said, different ministry fronts, different events and programs, everyone knows the brand thing separately, etcetera. Now that we handle on some of the core basics of what to do for housekeeping, for domains, what are your thoughts on, like, how many domain names should a church really need to register in today's world?
[00:17:20.210] – DJ Chuang
Well, that's going to depend on the church's strategy and how it wants to be publicly facing. So it used to be 1000 domain extensions, churchesogetbee.com. net.org to make sure there's not brand confusion, but now there's 1000 extensions. And so big brands like Amazon and Apple have to, for the sake of trademark and brand protection, they have to register 1000 domains and keep them renewed every year. And there are companies like Mark Monitor is one of them. They're a corporate domain management company and they will register 1000 domain names with those brand extensions to make sure that no one else misuses them. So it's quite illegal and expensive effort for the normal church, because now there's actually a domain extension for church. It's very clear and very simple to just use that one domain name for your church presence in terms of website and in terms of email. So Life Church was one of the pioneers and they've done tremendous things in digital as well as physical church, hybrid church. And that's a great way to brand and that's a great way to consolidate your web presence into one thing. Another one that's becoming popular is live.
[00:18:53.160] – DJ Chuang
So for the live stream, they might say ChurchName live. There are also events, so events could be useful. So using the dot, I saw a mission agency use like ten or twelve different dots for different functions. So instead of having slashes for sections of the website, they use the info, email, church.org and so on. So you can be pretty creative with domain names.
[00:19:30.760] – Kenny Jahng
Yeah, it sounds like you can be creative. Yeah.
[00:19:35.060] – DJ Chuang
So it's a new world. It's a little crazy, but you can be very strategic. And church is very strategic for churches.
[00:19:45.110] – Kenny Jahng
Yeah, I guess you don't need the net or biz anymore. They used to be with one that you pick up just in case, et cetera. You can save your money and put into the domain names that a lot of them are even cheaper today. In fact, as we close out this interview, one of the things that you can do is you should check, you should actually check if the church domain name is available. If you don't have it already, one of the easiest places to do that is at Name Church. Name church is a good registrar. They offer the church domain name. And actually right now, I believe there is a promo code available for all the listeners here today. If you use the promo code, manage domains, no spaces. Two words together manage domains. If you use that at main dot Church, you get an actual discount. And so it might be worth just hopping over there, doing some quick searches and grabbing that domain name. And there's tons of different ways to use a church domain name if you're not going to use it as your primary. I know in a couple of episodes ago we just ran down several use cases that you can look up the previous episodes and listen to.
[00:20:54.780] – Kenny Jahng
I would say DJ. One question about that is I just had an email that came in from a previous listener of the podcast and they were saying, hey, what if the name of my church, church, right, is already taken? There's some other church in the world that already has it might be a church plant and I don't know what else to take. Do you have any suggestions for some other easy variations? That it's intuitive, not complicated, and not adding like, 16,000 letters to it. But what are some other variations of a chart?
[00:21:33.640] – DJ Chuang
Here's a little bit of trivia. So you're allowed a domain name that's 63 characters long, so not a thousand, but you're allowed up to 63 characters long. I've seen a few that are very long. I think Budweiser did a commercial, can I say, talk about beer. I think Budweiser registered a super long domain name for a Super Bowl. Add once just for fun, and then the people that could get there would get a price. If you have a common name, church, let's say Calvary Church. Lots of Calvary Chapel churches out there, right? So one way is to add a prefix or a suffix to Calvary that's identified with your location. And what's nice about that is every keyword in your domain name is a signal to the search engine for your location in proximity. So when people are searching for churches near them, over 800,000 people are searching every month for a church near me. And so adding your city name or your county name, whatever your location name, to the name of your church. Church would be a great way to find a domain, and that's available. Sometimes people use acronyms, so let's say you're in Austin, so atxcalvary Church would be a great way to do that.
[00:23:05.890] – DJ Chuang
Some generic ways to check for a domain name availability is to add the word my. So mycalvary church or Calvaryweb church. So just adding a few characters that are meaningful. Again, it's about meaning and memorability. And then you should be able to find a domain name that's available.
[00:23:30.190] – Kenny Jahng
I love the adding the prefix or suffix and thinking through, like, geography. So city, county, state, before and after, that would be great. Okay, well, I hope that you are able to take advantage of that. For those of you that are listening, go to name dot church, the website www.name.church. It's a register that offers the church name. You can do a quick search there and then get a discount. Grab it while you can by using the promo code, manage domains, all one word, no spaces, and you should be able to get that for a pretty good deal. Today one of those things. It's worth grabbing it now and staying in the game for a year with that domain name and figure out what can you do, how to experiment, etc. Now, if someone had a question about your domain names, in particular DJ, or they want to learn more about your ministry and all the things that you're doing, what's the best way for someone to follow up after this conversation with you directly? How can they connect with you on the interwebs or on social media?
[00:24:31.840] – DJ Chuang
Well, in the show Notes, you'll add a link to my personal contact Djwang.com, and I'm DJ Chang at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, those are places that I frequent.
[00:24:45.940] – Kenny Jahng
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sitting with us today. Today we're in the weeds. We're literally trying to actually get some tactical, practical stuff out the door because we've heard from a lot of church staffers that this stuff is a little bit intimidating, and hopefully we went through the glossary of terms and started to explain some of that. We would love to continue to answer your questions. Just a preview our next episode, we're going to actually zoom out. Instead of being in the weeds, we're going to look at the big question of what does the future of the church look like? What is the future of the church looked like? This is one of those questions we love to ponder over here at Church Tech today, and hopefully next time we'll be able to actually answer that question and maybe even offer some things that you could use as a discussion launchpad for your own teams, because I think it's a very relevant question to everyone here today. Well, DJ. Thank you so much for spending some time with me today. I really love hanging out with you.
[00:25:45.640] – DJ Chuang
Hey, always a joy to be with DJ.
[00:25:50.140] – Kenny Jahng
And everybody, thanks for hanging out with us today on the church online podcast. We would love for you to let us know what you thought, give us some more questions. You could reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would also love for you to drop a positive review for the podcast so more church leaders, volunteers, and staff can discover this resource and we can actually all work on innovating and learning together. I'm Kenny Jiang. Make sure you get out there and engage. Be social. Stay social.