Difference Between Church and Chapel

Main Difference – Church vs Chapel   

Church and chapel are both Christian places of worship. But these two words actually do not refer to the same place. A church is a house of worship for Christians. A chapel is also a church, but the main difference between church and chapel is that chapel is not an independent structure or building, it is attached to another building. You’ll learn more information about the difference between church and chapel after reading this article.

What is a Church

A church is a public place of worship for Christians. The term church can also refer to Christianity in general, or to the Christian community. When we look at church as a building, it is a place where Christians get together to perform religious rituals and interact with one another. It is generally a standalone structure, which serves specific faith tradition or congregation; it is operated by a staff permanently assigned to that particular place.

It is also important to note that the term church can also refer to places of worship of other religions as well. But the church is mainly associated with Christianity.

Main Difference -Church vs Chapel

St. Andrew’s Forane Church of Arthunkal

What is a Chapel

A chapel is also a religious place of prayer and worship. But the main difference is that it is attached to a larger, nonreligious institution. A chapel can be found in nonreligious institutions like hospitals, colleges, prisons, palaces, funeral homes, etc. It can also be an extension of a main religious institution like a church, synagogue or mosque.

A chapel doesn’t stand alone as a church. It is often a place within another structure.

It provides a space for worship, private prayer or reflection. Chapels are generally operated as part of another institution. It doesn’t have any administrative staff or members, and it has no role in the governance of any larger host. A chapel can be staffed by the clergy of more than one faith.

It is also interesting to note that all chapels are churches, but not all churches are chapels.

Difference Between Church and Chapel

The chapel at Summa St. Thomas Hospital

Difference Between Church and Chapel   


Church is a public place of worship for Christians.

Chapel is a religious place of prayer and worship that it is attached to a larger, institution.


Church is a standalone structure.

Chapel is always attached to another institution.


Churches are generally larger than a church.

Chapels are usually smaller than chapels.


Church is usually reserved for a specific faith tradition or congregation.

Chapel  can be used by clergy and worshippers of different faiths.Difference Between Church and Chapel - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Chapel” by PFAStudent – via

“Church” by Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin from Chalakudy, India – Arthunkal st. Andrews church, via  

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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