I realize that Catholics believe in apostolic succession, and that they were explicitly given authority by Jesus himself. In other denominations, what, if anything, other than the choice made by its members gives the church authority over them?
I am speaking here not of "church" meaning a community of Christians, but "church" meaning a specific entity that owns property and instructs its members on what they may or may not do (such as tithing, indulgences, sexual practices, marriage, musical choices, etc.), led by a specific human individual or group.
I used to think that non-Catholics dedicated themselves to a church conditionally -- that is, they stay as long as the church seems to be serving God's will, and leave or seek to change the church if it doesn't. However, in practice that doesn't seem to happen much. I know many Christians who have never even read the Bible directly -- they pray and live solely according to the directions of their pastor and his/her interpretation of God's will, their only direct contact with the Bible is in small quotations strewn about a sermon completely out of context. These particular individuals feel that only a pastor can know what is true, and that as laypeople they are required to follow without question. Is this a mainstream belief, and if so, from what does it stem?