The term "free church" refers to a Christian denomination that is intrinsically separated from government (as opposed to a theocracy, or an "established" or state church). A free church does not define government policy, nor have governments define church policy or theology, nor seeks or receives government endorsement or funding for its general mission. The term is especially relevant in countries with established state churches.
The Free Church is a pattern that evolved in the Americas, while much of Europe maintains some government involvement in religion and churches via taxation to support them and by appointing ministers and bishops etc., although free churches have been founded in Europe outside of the state system 
Protestant historians would typically argue that this is historically what the Christian church was before Emperor Constantine and the State church of the Roman Empire, see Early Christianity, and did not appear again until the Protestant Reformation in groups such as the Calvinists and some particular radical movements such as the Anabaptists.
A number of churches in Scotland and Northern Ireland, mainly of the presbyterian tradition, have used the name 'Free Church'. The most important of these to persist at the present time is the Free Church of Scotland.
 See also
- Constantine I and Christianity
- Free Church Federation
- Separation of church and state
- Church covenant
- in Europe
- in Germany
- Evangelical Lutheran Free Church (Germany)
- Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church
- Union of Evangelical Free Church Congregations in Germany
- Altapostolische Kirche (see Old Apostolic Church)
- in Iceland
- in Norway
- in Scotland
- Free Church of Scotland (1843–1900)
- Free Church of Scotland (post-1900)
- Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (post-1893)
- Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)
- in South Africa
- in the United States
 Free Methodist Church
Among the Methodist Churches, calling a church "free" does not indicate any particular relation to a government. Rather the Free Methodist Church is so called because of three possibly four reasons, depending on the source referenced. The word "Free" was suggested and adopted because the new church was to be an anti-slavery church (slavery was an issue in those days), because pews in the churches were to be free to all rather than sold or rented (as was common), and because the new church hoped for the freedom of the Holy Spirit in the services rather than a stifling formality. However, according to World Book Encyclopedia, the third principle was "freedom" from secret and oathbound societies (in particular the Freemasons).
- http://anglicanhistory.org/misc/freechurch/ Project Canterbury: The Free Church Movement
- http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/jhhbrown/free1857.html What "Free Church" means and Why Churches should be Free. (1857)