Niall Ferguson, a professor of history at Harvard, sounds the tocsin and wonders what has happened to Christianity in the land of Wesley and Whitefield, Lewis, Tolkein, Chesterton and Stott. The concern he voices is remarkable in no small part because Ferguson identifies himself as a materialist. His lack of belief notwithstanding his article is titled, Heaven knows how we'll rekindle our religion, but I believe we must:
Perhaps one reason for the difference between Europe and America is that America has a strong tradition of independent and non-liturgical churches, which Europe does not. Indeed, were it not for non-denominational or weakly affiliated congregations in the United States church attendance would look no less bleak here than there. Most of the religious dynamism, enthusiasm, growth and teaching in this country is found in congregations that are organizationally autonomous, or nearly so, and which are in any case certainly not under the oversight of the state.
These assemblies tend toward a high view of scripture and a theological and moral conservatism which has largely been abandoned among their mainline brethren, especially in their seminaries and among the church hierarchy. People want something solid to believe in, they want to belong to a church where the people and the pastor act as if they really believe what they say they believe and they're attracted to the non-traditional congregations that are sprouting up all across the American landscape which offer a stout set of convictions.
The religious or spiritual energy generated by these institutions and their congregants also seeps into more formal mainline churches by neighbors talking to neighbors and through the expansive literature being produced by pastors and lay leaders outside the mainline denominations. This intercourse injects a measure of vitality into more traditional congregations, especially at the lay level, which would otherwise become moribund.
I doubt there's anything much like this phenomenon in Europe, and it's probably the reason why Christianity in America, though not what it should be, is nevertheless considerably healthier than it is there.