HomePodcastWhy Digital Ministry is Here to Stay

Why Digital Ministry is Here to Stay


Your church's website is now the digital front door of your ministry. The majority of visitors will look up your website before they look inside your building. In this episode, Kenny Jahng sits down with DJ Chuang to discuss how using a strategic domain name like one that uses .church is effective for outreach in terms of word of mouth and advertising.


.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.

Search for .church at www.name.church or your favorite registrar. Use the promo code DIGITAL MINISTRY 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!

[00:00:00.850] – Kenny Jahng

Hey friends, kenny Jang here with the church online podcast. We are back in action this season, really trying to get to the nuts and bolts of trying to further your mission and ministry across the interwebs today. E. We are really blessed to be sponsored by partner and friends, identity Digital Church. The domain name is your ministry's, digital front door today, and many of the country's top congregations are using church to better build their church brand online. And in fact, more than 30% of the outreach 100 largest and fastest growing churches are using a church domain as their main URL or a redirect. So you can warmly welcome members and new visitors 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 a day a year with your church domain name. And so we thank Identity Digital for investing in this to help further the education and the innovation stuff that we're going to talk about in this podcast series this season. And in particular today, we're going to talk about how you could use a church domain as your digital front door and how that is basically the most effective outreach tactic that you can do, just very tactically.

[00:01:21.970] – Kenny Jahng

And what I've done is I've asked DJ Chuang, an ambassador of the church domain, to come onto the podcast. And the church domain again is part of this family of Identity Digital and they are powering the most relevant domain names on the Internet. They have a whole portfolio. I'll ask DJ to explain a little bit of what they do. And DJ himself, DJ Chong, is known as a thought leader who helps churches and nonprofits learn about the use of latest digital technologies. Always a pleasure to talk with you, DJ. Welcome to the show.

[00:01:54.350] – DJ Chuang

Hey, Kenny, it's so great to connect with you again online as we talk about online technology.

[00:02:00.250] – Kenny Jahng

Absolutely. And classic trademark, DJ Chong style. You're wearing an orange shirt in your honor. I've worn an orange uniform as well so we could collaborate together in today's conversation. So let's just talk about Identity Digital first. Can you just share a little bit about what they do and what they offer to people on the Internet?

[00:02:28.130] – DJ Chuang

Well, Identity Digital is just relaunching as a new brand. It was formerly known as Donuts and it was an instrumental part of expanding the universe of the Internet namespace. Previously we were stuck with maybe 20 or 30 different legacy top level domains, the typical ones like.com. org.net and then some countries came up with two letter domain extensions like TV, FM, CC, Co and so on. Well, in 20, 14, 20, 15 time frame, the Internet corporation, it's called ICAN. It's got a longer name for that acronym and a number of multi stakeholder companies and governments and all that digital plumbing of the Internet came together and opened up the opportunity for nonprofits companies and governments and other entities to create new dots. Now there's Golf Network Bible and Church Identity digital is a part of managing and operating nearly 300 of those new top level domains.

[00:03:46.880] – Kenny Jahng

Wow, that's fascinating. And again, I think this is just one of those things. Most people, they are trying to get a website domain name and.com are taken, and sometimes a bizarre net doesn't work. And so having all these choices is just a great thing. Now, this past couple of years, this pandemic has really changed the mindset of church leaders and pastors everywhere. I think that digital has become part of the forefront of what everybody's thinking in terms of strategy for communications and marketing and outreach. Can you share with us, DJ, your thoughts on how church can be more effective in this post pandemic world, especially on the digital platforms out there?

[00:04:36.630] – DJ Chuang

Yes, well, we've all experienced a dramatic change, not just church leaders and churches, but every single person in the world, rich and poor and whatever. And kind of the digital divide has been exasperated for those that are not connected online. But because of the Internet, we've been able to have the active usage of technologies that have been already developed, like zoom. I've been using it for seven plus years, and the QR codes that's been around for at least five, maybe ten years. And so these existing technologies were accelerated in terms of its use and adoption, and we experienced how much better it's made many of our lives hasn't replaced our lives, but it's really enhanced it in so many ways. And so churches that we're not allowed to gather in person had to quickly pivot and use online tools, whether it's live streaming, some even use conference calls. And then over 40,000 churches signed up to use the free platform at online church, also known as church online platform. And they reached record breaking numbers, like 7 million in that first couple of weeks with online worship experiences that were even more than just a live stream or on demand video.

[00:06:07.280] – DJ Chuang

And churches all around the country, here in the United States and around the world realized that digital ministry is effective, it works. It still provided people with worst experiences in their very own home. It also opened new opportunities for people to invite their friends and their families and neighbors and people who have never stepped into a physical building of a church, but they can click on a link and check out a worship service in this space confines of their own home. And I just recently did some research about statistics, and I'll share some of those with you along the way as we talk more about how to grow your church in a post pandemic world.

[00:06:53.740] – Kenny Jahng

Yeah, absolutely. During the pandemic, right. I say as a former church online pastor, that it was revenge of the nerds, right? We were ignored and put to the back of the line prepandemic. And now everyone wanted to go digital, and there was an emergency, and anybody involved with digital ministry had a voice after things started to open up again. We have this thing where the behaviors of churches are changing a bit, right? So what would you say to there is a growing segment of churches that are basically reverting back to prepandemic behaviors, right? And even some of them are ending their livestream warship. What would you save for that type of scenario?

[00:07:41.490] – DJ Chuang

Well, let me put some markers down in terms of what happens. So 96% of churches provide some kind of streaming and online worship experience during the pandemic. I haven't been able to put my finger on staff in terms of how many reverted and went backwards to prepandetting behaviors and have only online in person experiences. But the online opportunity was a huge AHA moment when churches realized, hey, we can do effective ministry online for very low cost. It's much more expensive to do physical ministry than online ministry. Second, online ministry, the AHA moment is, hey, we can reach more people outside of our church walls than the limited space of our seating capacity or our physical geography. And then, third, it was amazing to see that across the board, online worship activity went up 300% to 500% compared to previous pandemic for churches across the board. And so it's a huge opportunity. I think the signals and the signs are there. Why hold back ministry? Why put your light under a bushel? To quote Jesus when this light literally digital light? Through the Internet and digital tools, you can further share the good news of Jesus Christ through digital technologies very easily while you continue to do your in person worship.

[00:09:23.350] – Kenny Jahng

Now, I guess one of the conversations, if you're talking to a church or pastor, some leaders that are thinking, oh, let's end our livestream services, et cetera, I think that it comes down to a cost benefit ratio for those type of conversations. And I would say one way to convince them the potential right of what we can do with digital today is to talk about, like, how can churches make the most out of the opportunity to reach more people through online versus just in person? What do you think would be some of the turning points in your mind for that?

[00:10:04.970] – DJ Chuang

Yes. Well, the proof is in the pudding, is one of the quotes I've heard along the way each church gets to evaluate, will online ministry reach more people in their context, in the way they do their ministry? Now, there's four huge opportunity that opens up as digital ministry continues because you've already learned the skills. You've learned how to live, stream and share your worship online. During the pandemic, you had your dress rehearsal, and actually not just with dress rehearsal, it was the real thing. You had engagements. Now, if that engagement went down dramatically as you return to in person, well, evaluate how much of a drop was it? Is it worth continuing to invest in? But given another six months to evaluate, make some tweaks, make some adjustments. It's a low cost experiment and see if it still can continue to disturb people that have been a part of your church but they feel uncomfortable returning because there's nearly 25% this is a general statistic, nearly 25% of people do not feel comfortable coming back to the physical church. Is your church willing to just cut off that 25%? I hope you as churches and pastors would not be so callous.

[00:11:29.970] – DJ Chuang

And secondly, there's nearly over 800,000 churches that are 800,000 searches for churches near me on Google and search engines every month. So people are looking for churches near them online and you want to be able to be found. So providing online web presence as well as in person because people are going to check out your website, that's the first thing they check out. It's your digital front door before they ever step into your physical church. So having that opportunity, helping them to see more than just a brochure online, actually an online worship experience is that much more inviting and helps people to take those tangible next steps. I already mentioned reaching those who have not returned to church. Also, there is a staggering statistic when research found is 44% of people say they prefer to worship alone. That's a whole different demographic that we would never think of if we only had in person worship. But what the pandemic and online worship experience has demonstrated is people do want to belong to a church but they don't like the in person worship experience, which has been aggravated by germs, but also the social anxiety that can happen, getting lost, navigating buildings, trying to find parking space, traffic.

[00:12:58.520] – DJ Chuang

There's quite a number of hurdles that we wouldn't think of for those of us that are accustomed to doing this weekly ritual and pilgrimage to physical building when so many unchurched people don't have that as a part of their normal lifestyle. And of course reaching the next generation. Gen Z and Gen X millennials, a majority of them prefer to not worship in person. So don't close the door on the are not coming back in person, don't close the door on the next generation. And it's a reasonable, simple, cost effective way that churches already have experience doing during the pandemic. Don't shut off the valve.

[00:13:55.550] – Kenny Jahng

Those are really compelling arguments and things I think that every leadership team has to start thinking about. And it just reminds me of that joke where people say when internal staff members at church sometimes will joke this like, man, if we just got rid of all the people, church would be perfect. You say that about jobs, right? But yeah, I think that that is something that people and this is something that church, I think, has to grapple with too. Like what does worship mean when you are at a distance, when you're corporately worshiping together but just not literally shoulder to shoulder and how do you respect that dynamic and even have a flourishing and not just look it as negative. One of the things though, very practically speaking, I'm just coming back to a DJ, I talked to a pastor here locally in our town who wants to cut off all of livestream because he's saying our church has very limited resources. We're not a megachurch, right? We're not one of the big megachurches. We don't have a media team, we don't have staff members that are editing videos seven days a week. What if my church really has limited resources?

[00:15:05.280] – Kenny Jahng

Do you have any suggestions of how to tackle that? Because I think in many pastors minds and church leaders, it's just we need to have the whole kit and caboodle and it seems like a huge production. What would you say to that?

[00:15:20.750] – DJ Chuang

Well, there are churches that do have big budgets and large attendants and staff to do the big production. But most churches are what, around 100 people in size and don't have that huge budget or staff to do the huge production and yet they're very effective on the ground in the neighborhood because of that personal touch. And Dave Adamson has written a most excellent and relevant book titled Metachurch and it described how to do online ministry effectively and make disciples using digital tools. And he tells of a story where a pastor was just walking his dog and he pulled up TikTok and asked people if he could pray for them and he got an amazing response just being in real time. Being personal and he wasn't a conference writing book author. Master communicator kind of a person and just a normal church pastor with the technology that's in everybody's pocket. A smartphone. You can do online ministry. Just opening that window begins to help the lights come on and it will draw people to your ministry and it gives an opportunity for volunteers to serve. You have techniques that don't run lights and sounds. You have techies that are running social media and doing live stream.

[00:17:04.940] – DJ Chuang

The reason social media and livestreams have become so popular is because it's easy to use and so normal unpaid people can be activated and given opportunities to just turn on a camera so people outside of your church wall can experiencing what's inside your church and church online platform. I mentioned earlier 40,000 plus churches signed up during the first couple of weeks of pandemic. That's free and live streaming is free. You can start with free and do a lot. And I'll share a personal story. In my high school years, I grew up in a very small town, 20,000 small churches everywhere. The whole mega church conversation was just not around in the yet on cable television with 13 channels on cable television, channel six, a church would just have a camera up in the balcony so you can watch the worship service. If they could do that back in the 80s. Why are we not doing that when we have a smartphone you can just put on a tripod and turn on so people can participate in your worship service and then as God blesses and I believe God will. And you'll hear stories of life change because people participate in your worship service.

[00:18:29.200] – DJ Chuang

Because people took a peek at your experience and was drawn to come in person. The proof will be in the pudding. Just leave that camera running and see what God does.

[00:18:41.440] – Kenny Jahng

I love it. It just kind of pushes me to the sentiment of, like, sometimes you have to take your work seriously in ministry, but sometimes you shouldn't take some aspects of it so seriously. Right. Sometimes it doesn't need to be perfect. It's just good enough to get out the door and actually just try. It's not about the container. It's about the content. And so I think that piece of encouragement is just very powerful for everybody. Now, let's talk about trying to find your church, especially during the pandemic. What we're seeing is I think there's some trends where there was a surge in people of getting to the church online, and the people who are going online were not just the people that used to go to your church. All fine. Many people discovered church for the first time online during the pandemic. And so this discovery aspect is really important, I think, and figuring out how someone actually finds you or identifies you or even just, like, recalls what your church name is or what your website is. Can you share a little bit about what the difference is? When you use a website address that has a church ending to it, what difference does that church domain actually make?

[00:20:04.790] – DJ Chuang

Yes. Well, the most commonplace that a majority of people find things is this magical thing called the search engine, and billions of searches happen every day. People are looking for answers to their burning questions, things to supplement their lives and even spiritual questions. And as I mentioned earlier, over 800,000 searches for churches near me. So people are searching for churches. People are searching for hope. People are looking for something that's near them to meet their needs.

[00:20:43.570] – Kenny Jahng

Okay, so we cannot dismiss what you just said casually, right? Like, people literally data driven. You have knowledge, data driven that people literally are searching for churches. It's not that the culture is dead and the culture doesn't want the church, and culture is against Jesus, and that the church is totally irrelevant. There are people literally maybe not asking you as a friend, but they're asking Google, right? Like, they literally are asking Google.

[00:21:12.650] – DJ Chuang

Yes. The beauty of church is SEO optimized because Google uses over almost 300 signals to figure out what to put at the top of their search result. And the statistics show that if you're on the first page and if you're on the first ten and first one, you get so many more clicks and so many more views to your website. But to get onto that first page, you have to have what's called search engine optimization. And one of those big factors is the domain name. So by having that church in your domain name, it signals the search engine and it signals the searcher, the user that this is obviously a church. And if they're searching for church near them, google factors in location, proximity and moves those near the top. And then church also signals, hey, we know the development in the Internet landscape. We're not just the oldstodgy.com org or something else. We're putting a period. We're on the statement, we are a church unapologetic, and we're here to serve people and serve the community. Plus, Microsoft did a research that the domain name in addition to the title and description and the search engine optimization techniques on that part.

[00:22:46.690] – DJ Chuang

So you'll need to take care of that. But the domain name part increases 25% of clicks if people recognize the domain name, its meaning, and its familiarity. So very important to get that additional ranking, additional recognition, so people are more likely to come to your church website.

[00:23:11.920] – Kenny Jahng

Well, it totally makes sense, right? Like, literally, if you have that church as part of the domain that someone's looking at it, it is quicker to figure out, oh, this is in alignment with my searching intent that I'm trying to figure out, hey, is there a church near me? Or something like that. So fascinating. I love the insights that you have. I think you have so much vast experience, not just with domain names and top level domain names, et cetera, but like, with church online and digital, et cetera. I'd love to have you back for a couple of different interviews. There's so many different things I want to go deeper in. But we're bringing our time to a close for this episode in particular. Before we go, can you just share with everybody? Like, how would someone actually best look up a church domain name and see, is the name of my church available? Is the name of my city available? How would they go about and doing that and actually registering one?

[00:24:06.830] – DJ Chuang

Yes, the response is very simple. Go to name church that's name church, and then type in the name that you want to find, matching your church name, matching your geography, matching your vision, and then be sure to include the word church in your search. And then the search engine will return relevant results and show you what's available. It's the smallest investment that can make the biggest difference. Think of all the things that you have to pay for with physical signs, building rent, staffing. I don't know what else is on the church budget line item, but that church for a year is less than $50 a month. Even cheaper with promotions?

[00:24:55.150] – Kenny Jahng

Absolutely. Yeah. It seems like a no brainer and it seems like anybody who even I mean, you should pick it up. What I want to bring you back to talk about is like using it as your main domain name is not the only way to use it and that's not the only way hundreds or thousands of churches are using it. And so I'd love to talk about different use cases next time when you come back and figure out how we can get further in this conversation. But DJ, thank you so much for being with us today and sharing with us what Identity Digital has. Again, if you're interested in seeing what's out there, what permutations are available of your church name, et cetera, just go to name church. It's www dot name church. And first of all, if you've never been to a church website, that's a great way to do it. It doesn't have a.com at the end or anything else. It's name church and then you can start searching away and see what's available and take the next steps. I'd love for you to drop a comment if you have any questions. After going to name church, I will monitor comments and see if we can help be a resource to you further.

[00:25:56.960] – Kenny Jahng

But in the meantime, thank you, DJ for being here. Thank you for listening to us as we continue to march on with the Church online podcast. We'll be here next time with another topic, but in the meantime, make sure to be social, stay social.

CTT Staff
CTT Staffhttps://churchtechtoday.com
ChurchTechToday is the #1 church technology website for pastors, communicators, and leaders. With the goal to provide insight into a variety of topics including social media, websites, worship, media, mobile, and software, ChurchTechToday aims to shed light on how church technology can empower and position churches for impact and growth.


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