I recently finished reading Mike Allen’s book “Growing Up Church of Christ.” What makes this book so intriguing on the front end is that Mike Allen is Jimmy Allen’s son. After reading the book, I am certain Mike would want me to start this post exactly like that. Only kidding. Any time you are related to someone as well known in the circles you are in it is hard to establish your own identity and end up with people wanting to talk about your famous brother or father or mother…in this case a famous (within Churches of Christ) father.
This book is a snapshot into the past. It is one guy’s perspective on growing up in the Church of Christ, the experiences he had, the thoughts that went through his mind, the things he loved and the things that were challenging. It is organized topically and Mike isn’t afraid to jot down his ideas on even the most controversial topics and how silly certain things appeared to him growing up. For anyone who grew up through this time much of the book will hit home. For those much younger it won’t probably make a whole lot of sense unless you have grown up in conservative circles of the Churches of Christ in the last few decades.
What I liked about this book was that Mike is real. He tells you what he thinks on and has compiled responses and anecdotes from people he knows on various topics. Mike is humorous and you can tell he is an insightful guy. The best parts of the book are not the humor. The best parts of the book are where he is being genuinely honest and appreciative about his experience. I especially liked his reflections on baptism. That chapter is where I took on a whole new appreciation for what Mike was doing with this book.
I expected a little more Jimmy Allen in this book. The book actually does give quite a bit of material in this area but it is spread throughout the book in small increments. Honestly though, I am glad that I got Mike Allen and less Jimmy Allen in this book. I say that with the utmost respect. I took Romans with Jimmy Allen at Harding and have a tremendous amount of respect for that man. The reason I say this is because Mike is not Jimmy. Only Jimmy is Jimmy. Mike can’t be expected and shouldn’t be expected to be his dad. Mike being Mike is good enough to make this book what it is and I am glad he didn’t feel it necessary to reach in order to make the connections back to his father but only kept them in the book where they actually fit well and advanced the purpose of his book.