There seem to be many Calvary Chapel churches with no denominational affiliations, but it's unclear whether Calvary Chapel is itself a denomination.

  • As a side note I came to believe at Calvary Chapel of Melbourne, FL. So far it has been the most amazing church I have attended specifically in terms of promoting genuine discipleship, fellowship and growth in the Word of God.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


It may depend on whom you ask. According to the Calvary Chapel website regarding the History of the Calvary Chapel, the church was founded in 1965 in Costa Mesa.

What began as a small local church has now grown into an international ministry of over 1600 fellowships throughout the world, all in the last 40 years.

And you can search their church locator to find a church within this 1600 church network.

According to their page about the Calvary Chapel Association,

The Calvary Chapel Association (CCA) is the administrative connection point for the Calvary Chapel Movement of churches. It keeps a record of associated Calvary Chapel senior pastors. One of the functions of CCA is to promote official Calvary Chapel regional, national and international events. CCA also serves in various support roles to local Calvary Chapel churches and senior pastors. It is overseen by the Calvary Chapel Association Council, which consists of over 20 seasoned Calvary Chapel senior pastors from around the world.

The CCA has a published philosophy of ministry, statement of faith, and statement of faith.

In this regard, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. On the other hand, Under the Calvary Chapel's "What We Believe" page from 2011, it states,

We are not a denominational church, nor are we opposed to denominations as such, only their over-emphasis of the doctrinal differences that have led to the division of the Body of Christ.

According to Donald Miller in Reinventing American Protestantism: Christianity in the New Millennium, Pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of the movement,

...was not attempting to create a denomination; rather, what emerged was a loose fellowship of like-minded people.... Asked about what is preventing the a movement the size of Calvary Chapel, Smith emphatically answers, "Me," and then clarifies how a relationally based movement was ensured "by being fiercely independent and implanting this independence in them [the offspring churches]; by each of them incorporating independently; by not requiring reports; by keeping the affiliation [of churches] just a very loose affiliation." He states that there are no requirements, no calls, no letters from headquarters, unless there are major deviations from Calvary Chapel philosophy, at which point there might be a call from "Dad" to inquire what is going on.

And so in this regard, the Calvary Chapel distinguishes between a denomination and an association of churches and considers itself the latter.

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