Hundreds of German churches, ministries, fellowships and church groups are preparing to take part in the biggest sporting event of the year – the highly anticipated 2006 Fifa World Cup which will take place in Germany this summer.
The various Christian groups will host a series of evangelistic outreach events during the soccer event under the leadership of one of Germany’s leading sports ministries, SRS Pro Sportler – an evangelistic ministry to athletes in Germany.
In order to make the most of the mass evangelism opportunity that the World Cup presents, the churches and church groups have united together to form a new network which includes national and international Christian sports ministries under the name of Kickoff2006.
The sports ministries of both the Lutheran and Catholic Churches are involved in the sports outreach initiatives running under the title "Kickoff2006: Kick-start your faith," which aim to promote tolerance and unity between cultures.
Other events are to be held as part of a wider initiative running in tandem with a conference organized by the British Embassy in Berlin on integration, racism and soccer.
One of the major events scheduled includes an eight-a-side pre-World Cup friendly which will see Christian ministers go head to head with Muslim imams in a match to be officiated by a Jewish referee.
The friendly, organized by the German Protestant Church, is aimed at increasing understanding among religions and will take place Saturday, just over a month before the World Cup kicks off on June 9.
The Protestant church in Geithain is also planning to host a mini-World Cup to bring together 32 churches to run alongside the actual event.
The World Cup will run for one month from June 9 to July 9.
Kickoff2006 was set up to facilitate the involvement of local churches and denominations, ministries and communities in outreach, as well as to serve the spiritual needs of athletes and family members, the visitors and spectators to Germany and the local residents during the event.