The first non-denominational churches appeared in the United States in the course of the 20th century, in the form of independent churches. They have experienced significant and continuous growth in the 21st century, particularly in the United States, where they represented the third largest Christian denomination in 2010.
In Asia, especially in Singapore and Malaysia, these churches are also more numerous, since the 1990s.
The first characteristic is that non-denominational churches are not affiliated with a denominational stream of evangelical movements, either by choice from their foundation or because they have detached themselves from their Protestant denomination of origin in their history. However, this doesn't prevent them from working with other churches on specific matters, even those with denominational affiliations; in fact it is quite common.
Nondenominational churches are recognizable from the evangelical movement, even though they are autonomous and have no other formal labels.
Churches with a focus on seekers are more likely to identify themselves as non-denominational.
Boston University religion scholar Stephen Prothero argues that nondenominationalism hides the fundamental theological and spiritual issues that initially drove the division of Christianity into denominations behind a veneer of "Christian unity". He argues that nondenominationalism encourages a descent of Christianity—and indeed, all religions—into comfortable "general moralism" rather than being a focus for facing the complexities of churchgoers' culture and spirituality. Prothero further argues that it also encourages ignorance of the Scriptures, lowering the overall religious literacy while increasing the potential for inter-religious misunderstandings and conflict.
^Confessionalism is a term employed by historians to refer to "the creation of fixed identities and systems of beliefs for separate churches which had previously been more fluid in their self-understanding, and which had not begun by seeking separate identities for themselves—they had wanted to be truly Catholic and reformed." (MacCulloch, The Reformation: A History, p. xxiv.)
^Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2013, p. 157