Jerry Cannon picked up right where he left off.

A year after preaching a rousing sermon to conclude the 2012 Evangelism and Church Growth (ECG) Conference, the Charlotte, N.C. preacher had the opening night crowd at the 2013 ECG conference here stomping their feet, pounding their tables and shouting in response to his exhortation  to “don’t make (evangelism) harder than it needs to be.”

Preaching from 2 Kings 5, Cannon said “sometimes bad things happen to good people and unpleasant things are visited on nice people… If you live long enough trouble comes to everybody.”

Believers need to remember that all things are possible to those who believe. “We can talk about bad times all night long,” he told the crowd of about 400 participants.  “But I’m preaching some good news here,” Cannon continued, “God has God’s arms wrapped around you.”

Evangelism is as simple as sharing God’s love with all those in need, Cannon said, repeatedly sounding his refrain: “Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.”

Sickness, disease and trouble is no respecter of persons, Cannon said. “We cannot let what happens to people separate us from them. People with troubles are looking for what we’ve got to offer. Everyone needs a community that loves them ― that’s our call.”

In the story from 2 Kings, Naaman made his healing harder than it needed to be, Cannon said, by asking for a better-known healer and cleaner water in which to immerse himself than the Jordan River.

 If believers look for easier or more preferable ways to share Christ’s love, they are missing the point, Cannon said: “God, who has done it before, can do it again.”

It’s the love of Jesus Christ that makes salvation happen, Cannon said. “We have to confess our sin, our separation, our distance, our pushing people away. If we get closer to God, God will get closer to us. Don’t make it harder than it has to be ― God wants you to get closer to God by listening to and obeying God’s word.”

There are no tricks to effective evangelism, Cannon said. “People simply want to experience the love of God – don’t make it harder than it needs to be.”

And he concluded with challenge: “Put yourself in the Word … and don’t come back here next year if you haven’t done what God told you to do this year.”