Protestant vs. Non-Denominational: How are they different?

Many people do not know the difference between protestant and non-denominational Christianity. This is not surprising since the latter emerged from Protestantism. The main question pondered by society is; what is the difference between Non-Denominational vs. Protestant?

The term protestant refers to a church or a person that has broken away from Catholic practices and belief systems. Some examples of protestant denominations include Lutheranism, Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, and Methodism. Non-denominational people or churches began within the protestant crusade. However, they are not tied down by the ideals pushed by various denominations. The Joyce Meyer Ministry is one of the most popular non-denominational churches in the 21st century, with millions of followers worldwide.

So, what are the differences between non-denominational and protestant churches? Are there any similarities between the two? How do protestant beliefs and practices compare to those of non-denominational Christians? Which came first, Protestantism or non-denominationalism? Keep reading to get enlightened on these and more issues about this topic.

What is the difference between Protestant and Non-Denominational?


In the 16th century, the catholic church was undergoing internal conflicts, which led to major reforms. The movement responsible for these reforms is known as Protestantism. The man behind the protestant reformation was Martin Luther, a German theologian. In 1517, Luther set in motion the protestant movement by challenging the ideals of the Roman Catholic church.

Luther wrote a paper detailing 95 ideas that challenged the public to ponder and discuss. Firstly, he challenged the indulgence system. Under this system, people could atone for their sins by purchasing a certificate of pardon. Luther highlighted a severely flawed theory in which the catholic church assumed the role of intermediary between God and human beings.

Other religious thinkers also began attacking certain practices in the Catholic church. John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli took issue with the idea of transmutation as taught by catholic doctrine. Zwingli and Calvin did not believe that the bread and wine served during holy communion turned into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Instead, they taught that everything in Christ’s identity is available to those who partake in the Eucharist in faith.

Another group, called Anabaptists, did not agree with the baptisms of infants. They proposed that baptism should be performed on self-aware adults in their decision-making. The protestant movement officially started in England with the help of King Henry VII. In 1534, the pope denied Henry VII a divorce, after which the king renounced the pope’s authority.

Non-denominational churches

Although the non-denominational campaign is relatively new, it is quickly gaining traction in modern society. Christians in this group entirely rely on the Bible as their moral and spiritual compass. Although they subscribe to protestant convictions, non-denominational churches do not blindly follow the religious doctrines imposed by any denomination.

As part of a contemporary Christian movement, non-denominational church members strongly oppose the strict rules implemented in big churches. They are also repelled by the bureaucracy often found within mainstream denominations.

Non-denominationalism favors adaptability and diversity of opinion among its members. This sharply contrasts with traditional denominations, which would be involved in politics, even picking sides. Non-denominational Christians of today prefer churches that focus more on social issues.

Statistics show that the non-denominational movement is steadily growing, especially in countries like the U.S. Currently, 6.2% of adults in the U.S. identify with the non-denominational bracket. 13% of Protestants have also joined this group. This is a significant increase from 2007, when only 9% of Protestants were non-denominational.

The table below summarizes the main differences between protestant and non-denominational.

Martin Luther started it in the 1500sNo individual is credited with starting the non-denominational movement
The movement grew in the 16th century.It started in the 18th century and caught on in the middle of the 20th century.
Values other works written beyond the limits of the Bible, such as the institute of the Christians Religion by Calvin and the 95 Thesis by Martin Luther.They only value works written within the boundaries of traditional evangelism.
Protestant churches are governed through several systems. These may be presbyterian, congregational, or Episcopalian.Non-denominational churches predominantly use congregational systems. Elders or individual pastor


leads other churches.

Carefully drafted criteria regulate ordination and licensing. Each level has specific experiential and educational requirements.Non-denominational churches are not strict about formal education. However, most pastors have studied in seminaries or bible colleges.
In terms of theology, protestants are either conservative or liberal. The last few decades have brought a shift in Protestantism. They are far more liberal in their views on social issues.These churches are more inclined toward conservative principles in theology. They also apply traditional ethics to contemporary social subjects such as same-sex marriage.

What are the similarities between protestant and non-denominational?

Since both religious groups are rooted in the same protestant values, there are several similarities between non-denominational and protestant churches. First, both entities share the same values about scripture. They view the word of God as the final authority. They also observe the ideal that scripture is devoid of error. For both protestant and non-denominational, church customs come second to the Bible.

Non-denominational and protestant churches also believe in the holy trinity. They both subscribe to the knowledge that God is three persons in one, The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is a mutual belief that salvation comes through grace and that Jesus Christ was the son of God and Savior of the world.

Protestant vs. Non-Denominational
How do protestant and non-denominational beliefs compare? See below

What is the comparison between protestant and non-denominational beliefs and practices?

Protestants and non-denominational churches share some belief systems and practices. Still, certain disparities come up in various areas. While both churches believe in holy communion, the non -denominational see this practice as a way to remember the death of Jesus. On the other hand, protestants view communion as a tradition that Jesus began long before He died and was resurrected.

When it comes to the Holy Spirit, Protestants unanimously agree that the Holy Spirit is the third entity in the trinity. According to Protestantism, the Holy Spirit plays a crucial role in implementing salvation as planned by God through Christ. They also teach that believers receive various gifts from the Holy Spirit. These gifts are required to bear good fruit for the sake of the church.

Non-denominational churches vary in their view of the Holy Spirit. The larger percentage is Pentecostal, while other non-denominational churches are not. The same goes for protestants. A section of them speaks in tongues, while others shy away from this practice.

The topic of baptism is contentious among the protestants. The consensus is that baptism provides Christians with a connection to the death and resurrection of Jesus. As mentioned in Acts:38-47, Baptism ensures that a believer is part of the church body.

It is worth noting that protestants have not reached common ground on the baptism of children and adults. Non-denominationalism is primarily focused on believer baptism. They stress the need for believers to profess their faith before getting baptized. Although Non-denominational Christians do not have infants baptized, they allow the baptism of children who can understand the concept of faith.

Which came first between Protestant and Non-Denominational?

As mentioned earlier, Germany’s protestant church started in the 16th century. Theologians like Martin Luther and John Calvin pushed this movement forward. With the help of influential leaders like Henry VIII, Protestantism spread throughout Europe and the rest of the world. As a result, the non-denominational crusade began in the 18th century. A group of Christians known as the Stone-Campbell Movement added fuel to the non-denominational fire. The people who joined the non-denominational church preferred to be called Christ’s disciples.


Joyce Meyer Ministries


Non-denominational Churches Explained

The Changing Religious Composition of the U.S.

The Protestant Reformation

What Are Non-Denominational Churches? Meaning & Examples

Quick Guide to Christian Denominations

The Rise Of The Non-Denominational Church

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