A domain name is a very cheap piece of cyber real estate. Your church can register a domain for $20 or less per year. This domain can then become the hub for all of your church’s internet communications–your website, your email, a blog, etc. If people know your domain name, they can find you.

However, every year, one or two United Brethren churches lose their domain name.

  • Maybe nobody in the church office understood what the renewal notices were about.
  • Maybe renewal notices were going to somebody who no longer attends, but who originally registered the account.
  • Maybe they just procrastinated too long.
  • Or maybe they just forgot.

Many companies eagerly pounce on lapsed domain names. They like snapping up something with established traffic flow. As a result, the church loses their domain name, which has a variety of ramifications:

  • The church website address no longer works.
  • Email addresses which used that domain no longer work.
  • Business cards, letterhead, and any other printed materials which mentioned those email addresses or the website URL must be reprinted.
  • The church must find a new domain name, which will probably be less satisfactory than the previous one.
  • People who type in the name of the previous domain name will be taken to something totally unrelated to the church–perhaps a porn site.

So, some suggestions:

  1. Make sure you know where the domain is registered.
  2. Try to get the domain directly under the church’s control, rather than in the account of a parishioner.
  3. Make sure your contact information with the registrar is current, so you receive notices when it’s about to expire.


Technology has its frustrations, but also its amazing sides.

This morning, the Global Ministries staff held a meeting with David Kline in Macau. Four of them gathered around Darlene Burkett’s iMac, and using iChat’s video features, they discussed some financial issues. It was smooth, and free. Here in Huntington, it was 9:30 Thursday morning, but for David, it was 10:30 Thursday night.

David, seeing me enter the scene with my camera, apologized for not combing his hair.

Pictured (l-r): Mabel Mundy (accounting clerk), Darlene Burkett, Jeff Bleijerveld, Donna Hollopeter is out of the photo, on the left. (Sorry, Donna.)

Steve Dennie, Communications Director
I bought one of the early Palm Pilots, back around 1997. I envisioned it being a good tool. But it didn’t fit the way I work. It became something cool that I showed people. Not something that made me more effective. For many people, a Palm Pilot is a great tool. For me, it became a toy.

A tool, on the other hand:

  • Will enhance your ministry.
  • Will solve a problem.
  • Can be cool and fun to show people, but that’s a bonus.

Steve Dennie, Communications Director
Every time your mouth waters over some new gadget or software or social media site, ask yourself, “Is it a tool or a toy?” That’s the question posed in the excellent book The Blogging Church, by Brian Bailey and Terry Storch.

Tech-savvy people (like me) love new technology and usually believe more technology can only bring good things. But toys can merely waste church money and consume the pastor’s (and volunteers’) time.

How can you tell if it’s a toy?

  • You use the word “cool” to describe it.
  • You spend more time playing with it than using it.
  • You want it because other people have it.
  • You love to show it to other people.
  • You hear, “We should get a….” You’d like to have it, but can’t articulate a compelling ministry need for it.

I’m in Oklahoma City attending the MinistryCOM conference–my third year. It’s designed for local church communications specialists, most of whom come from megachurches. Some churches come with an entire staff of 4-5 people who work only in communications (graphics, video, internet, etc.). Then there are a few folks like me.

Today, I met two persons who do fulltime communications work in churches of less than 1000 attendees. First time I’ve seen that. (I’m not aware of any UB church with a person working fulltime solely in communications. Doesn’t mean there aren’t any. But if they exist, they should definitely attend MinistryCOM.)

Just finished lunch with three people from Houston. The one couple said they planned to attend MinistryCOM before the hurricane, but the hurricane made it even more attractive, because they’re expected to be without electricity for another 3-4 weeks. Bummer for them.

The opening speaker was Mike Foster, founder of XXXChurch.com Some notes from his session:

  • Spend your life in the ocean, not in the tank. Be in the wild. Experience new things. Get out among nonChristians.
  • The average age of videogame players is 33. (I would have guessed much younger.)
  • Our guardian angels are bored. We’re playing it safe, not taking chances.
  • Ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s easy and fun to dream. What’s valuable is a well-executed idea.

On Wednesday, I encouraged all churches to get a domain name, whether or not they have current plans for a website. Now you may be wondering, “So where do we get a domain name?”

There are many places. My experience is limited to Network Solutions, Aplus.net, and Yahoo. Yahoo! was extremely frustrating, Aplus not so much. But I’ve transferred all UB domains to Network Solutions.

Network Solutions makes it easy to configure domains to use with websites hosted by other service providers. We have domains scattered among several providers, and have never had trouble configuring things through Network Solutions.

  • UB.org and UBMissions.com are hosted on the Huntington University system (with the server in my office).
  • Ubonline.org (home of the UB News page) is hosted by Aplus.net.
  • Bluehost.com hosts our atmychurch.com and healthyministryresources.com websites.

GoDaddy.com is the largest domain registrar; Tucows.com is also popular. I’m sticking with Network Solutions (which is a bit pricier) for the UB accounts, because I’ve had such good experience.

If you open an account with an internet service provider (Bluehost, Aplus, GoDaddy–there are scores of them), you often get a free domain name (at least for a year). But make sure the account is in the church’s name (not the name of a staff member or layperson). Make sure the church controls the name.

To search for available names, go to the homepage of Network Solutions or GoDaddy.

What advice or experience can you share?

Your church needs a domain name.

  • The potential domain names for your church decline every day. Unless your church has an unusual name, or you add “ub” to the end, you’ll probably have trouble finding an appropriate name. So get on it now.
  • When my church, Anchor Community Church, started a website in 2002, we had a terrible time finding a good domain name. Most any name containing “Anchor” was already taken, and that was six years ago. We finally settled on “Anchorpeople.org.”
  • Domain names are bargain-priced real estate on the internet. Prices vary, but $20 a year might do it.
  • Once a name is gone, it’s gone. Unless somebody forgets to renew it somewhere down the road (in which case, somebody else will probably grab it first).

You don’t need a website to have a domain name.

  • Even if you have no immediate plans to create a website, I recommend obtaining a domain name. Set it on the shelf until you need it.
  • The national office owns 37 domain names, most of which aren’t being used. We’re just saving them for possible future needs, and don’t want anyone else to own them (like unitedbrethren.com, ubchurches.us, ubchildren.org, and ubusa.org).
  • If you have an internet service provider, you can possibly use your domain name for email even if you don’t have a website.

To search for available names, go to the homepage of Network Solutions or GoDaddy.

What advice or experience can you share?

In case you’re wondering:

  • UB.org is the official, flagship website of the US National Conference. Anything you want to know about the UB church you can probably find there. Use the search box on the homepage.
  • UBMissions.com is the official website for Global Ministries.
  • HealthyMinistryResources.com is the website for the national office only.

An email was sent out yesterday afternoon to the UB constituent list, which consists of 1070 addresses. It gives information about current work trips, our newest missionary, and other things.

How about forwarding it to your church’s email list, with a note inviting parishioners to subscribe on their own? The email includes a link they can use to subscribe. There might be other people in your church interested in receiving these emails.