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According to new research from Duke University’s Mark Chaves, several kinds of Christian worship experiences—including speaking in tongues—are on the rise among American churchgoers. As The Atlantic explains:

Since Chaves and his team started tracking these trends in 1998, the portion of congregations that see hand-waving during services has increased by 11 percentage points; spontaneous jumping, shouting, or singing has increased by 9 percentage points; and speaking in tongues has increased by 5 percentage points.

Commenting on his National Congregations Study, Chaves told the outlet that the current trend in American religion is for worship and church experiences that are “more emotionally engaging, not just intellectually engaging” ... Discuss

Today’s edition of The New York Times features a front page story on a topic that may already be familiar to many evangelicals: Hillsong. The story, “Megachurch With a Beat Lures a Young Flock,” primarily looks at the growth of the church in cities like New York, but also examines the ministry’s appeal—combining cool music, compelling messages and hip venues—to millennials:

The church, Hillsong, has become a phenomenon, capitalizing on, and in some cases shaping, trends not only in evangelicalism but also in Christian youth culture. Its success would be rare enough at a time when religion is struggling in a secularizing Europe and North America. But Hillsong is even more remarkable because its target is young Christians in big cities, where faith seems out of fashion but where its services are packing them in.

Thrice frontman and indie artist Dustin Kensrue has resigned from his position as director of worship at Mars Hill. The move comes after a letter—signed by Kensrue and several fellow church leaders—asking that Pastor Mark Driscoll step down for a time and seek “restoration” following numerous controversies, was leaked to the media. The original letter added, “We believe that in many cases we have invited these controversies upon ourselves by not seeking the truth and not seeking to be in the light.” In his resignation letter, Kensrue said that the authority of church elders to correct leadership at Mars Hill “is trampled under the man-made hierarchies and ‘chain of command.’” Driscoll has since announced a six-week leave absence saying, “The current climate is not healthy for me or for this church,” adding, “I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire eldership for addressing accusations against me.”

Throughout his resignation letter (which he posted here), Kensrue focused on what he sees as a lack of ability of the church elders to offer correction to higher church leadership, and the inability to address concerns raised by church members and the media. He told members:

I would encourage you to not muddy the issues by engaging in personal attacks and becoming bitter. I honestly believe that [the Board of Advisors & Accountability and Executive Elders] love you, and that they love Jesus. But I also believe that they are blind to what is really going on, and blind to what the roots of the problems are. I believe that they are treating the media as their conscience, rather than heeding the voice of the Holy Spirit and the voice of the elders. So speak boldly, but speak in love. Mars Hill is not on a good trajectory.

In a statement posted on the Mars Hill website, megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll said that he is taking a six-week leave of absence while the elders of the church review a series of allegations against him.

Storm clouds seem to be whirling around me more than ever in recent months and I have given much thought and sought much counsel as to why that is and what to do about it. The current climate is not healthy for me or for this church … There is a well-documented list of past actions and decisions I have admitted were wrong, sought forgiveness, and apologized for to those I hurt or offended.

Driscoll is effectively stepping down as pastor of the 15-campus, 15,000-attending church based in Washington—at least for the next month and a half. In recent months, Driscoll has come under fire following allegations of plagiarism in his books, using marketing money to essentially inflate book sales, bullying staff and former members and making vulgar online posts under a false name. Though many of the allegations had been previously addressed, in the last few weeks, public outcry grew. Along with criticism from the online community, the Lifeway Christian retail chain announced that it would no longer be selling his books, and the Acts 29 Network of church planters (which Driscoll helped found) removed Mars Hill and Driscoll, saying “the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network” ... Discuss

In a recent interview with reporters while traveling from South Korea, Pope Francis revealed that he believes he only has "two or three years" left, and would even consider retiring early. The 77-year-old leader of the Catholic church said,

I see it as the generosity of the people of God. I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, not to become proud. Because I know it will last only a short time. Two or three years and then I'll be off to the Father's house.

Pope Francis said that though the idea “does not appeal to some theologians," he would consider retirement if he began to feel like he couldn’t handle his responsibilities as pope, like his predecessor. Pope Francis said that “"Benedict XVI opened a door,” and even admitted that he is currently being treated for nerve problems ... Discuss

In a conversation with reporters, Pope Francis said that the U.N.—and not a single country—should be involved in the decision to take action against ISIS, but protecting Christians and religious minorities in Iraq was essential.

In these cases, where there is an unjust aggression I can only say that it is legitimate to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb 'to stop'. I am not saying 'bomb' or 'make war', but stop him (the aggressor). The means by which he can be stopped must be evaluated. Stopping the unjust aggressor is legitimate

Pope Francis said that a senior church official has been sent to Iraq to distribute charity funds and minister to refugees who have been displaced by ISIS. The brutal Islamic group has forced thousands to flee their homes and have been targeting Christians and other religious groups who do not adhere to their radical ideology. The pope also revealed that he sent a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General, reiterating how important it is that ISIS be stopped ... Discuss