Updated: Jan 9
The short answer to this question is "no".
But before you start attacking me, let's chat.
First off, there is definitely a place in our spiritual walk for church attendance. We see many scriptures in the Bible that support this. I'll include several in this post; underlining the parts I'm focusing on:
"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood."
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."
"For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior."
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
1 Peter 2:9-10
So we see a couple of things in these verses. First off, we see that Christ is the focus and the ultimate leader of the church mentioned in the Bible. We also see that the church can also be referred to as the body of Christ. As followers of Jesus we are called to unite together in a sense and continue to do good work in the world. We are expected to share the love of Christ with others. The people of God, who make up the church, are considered to be called out of the darkness of the world and are a "chosen people".
This still doesn't address the issue of all the different denominations we see today. Now before I continue, we have no choice but to first acknowledge that the church of God mentioned in the Bible and the religious organizations we call church today aren't necessarily the same thing. My understanding of these scriptures is that anyone who has accepted Jesus as their Savior and is choosing to dedicate his or her life to following God is a member of the Biblical church. It is for this reason that I think the very short answer to the question I am addressing is no, our worldly version of church denominations does not matter in relation to our salvation.
I don't believe that when Jesus comes back to earth he is going to approach me and say, "Melissa, because you attended the Seventh-day Adventist church, you can come live with me in heaven." There are people who are "church" members in the modern-day sense of the word who may not be in heaven. There are also people who are not registered or baptized into any church denomination who I believe will be in heaven.
Does that mean we should just go to whatever church we want? Well, no... and here is why.
"I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people." Romans 16:17-18
This is a powerful little verse that reminds me that my ultimate guide for how I am to live as a Christian is the Bible rather than a person or a church group. Because of this, I must test and compare what religious organizations are upholding with what I learn from the Bible- the "doctrine that I have been taught". If I see something rise up in a church that I know goes directly against what the Bible says, this helps me determine if I want to spend a lot of time there.
Perhaps you are thinking," How ridiculous! Every church studies the entire Bible!" If you truly believe this, I would strongly encourage you to carefully go online and review the fundamentals of various church denominations today. Compare them with what the Bible says and you will be surprised. Many people who go to churches today are oblivious of the fact that what they are being taught does not agree with what the Bible says. Our traditions and our cultures sometimes allows us to twist the words of the Bible to fit our own agendas.
That being said, It is not my job to become judgmental and decide who will or won't be in heaven based on denominational preference. It is not my job to shun, put down, or belittle other Christians who choose to attend a different denomination than me. It is not my job to approach strangers and tell them they need to join my church if they want to know "The Truth" (you can know Biblical truth without a church family by the way... it comes from the Bible).
It is my job to make sure I put myself in a place where I know what I am being taught and exposed to is coming directly from the Bible itself. It is my job to ask questions and investigate church teachings that don't align with what I have found in scripture. It is my job to be able to tell other people why I believe what I do when I am asked. It is my job to fellowship with people who I can relate to and who are also following what the Bible says. It is my job to seek after how God wants me to live my life, even though I know I am saved through accepting salvation and Jesus' death on the cross.
It is for this reason the church denomination does matter to me and I hope it will matter to you as well.