‘This isn’t church as normal’

Ben Greene

Pastor & writer

  • Church planting & multiplication

Pastor Williams-Lightway-900x500

A Ph.D. and the pandemic mostly blocked Farida Yada’s desire to actively serve in a church near her Charlotte, North Carolina, home. 

But LightWay Church, launched this Resurrection Sunday, gave her what she’d been waiting years to find. 


“I have been missing that piece of finding a good, local church where I could serve,” she said. “It’s something I like to do, and it does help me in my spiritual walk.” 


Related: Converge has well-designed resources so churches help people serve Christ. 


Pastor Freddie C. Williams said the new church tailored its approach and culture to busy, active people drawn to community service. 


“If you tell them, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this in the community,’ then their ears perk up,” he said. “It allows them to get out, be active and help.” 


A new life direction from an unexpected group


Through such service, LightWay offers people a new direction in life. The congregation specifically seeks people in the 28278 zip code. Many of those people moved to Charlotte for college or a career, and most of them earn more than the average Charlotte resident. 


These neighbors and community members are polite, saying thank you to believers when invited to LightWay worship services or events. Still, Williams said he meets many people who have decided church is not for them. 


Related: Many near Pittsburgh felt that way, but a church is changing their minds. 


But LightWay hopes to help people find fresh paths forward through Christ, the light and the way. So, they offer community service events and a one-hour service to honor people’s fast-paced lives. 


During that experience, Williams said there was a simple goal with significant potential. 


“Our experience, when they come, is to represent Jesus in a way that they can say, ‘Oh you know what, this isn’t church as normal,’” he said. 


Trying to find the common needs


Community service shows the church exists to help. For example, Williams recently talked with a basketball coach whose team needed uniforms and help paying for a trip. So LightWay financially supported the players. 


“By being the hands and feet of Christ, they’ll see we’re not a church that’s trying to get something from them,” he said. “We’re trying to get something to them.” 


The new church has also started offering care for homeless children who face challenges in getting their daily needs met. So LightWay rallied around a 5K/10K race benefitting these families. The church donated funds but also volunteered to direct runners on the course. 


In April, a family fest reached out to the community. In June, the church plans a cookout to gather families at the end of the school year.  


We're not a church that's trying to get something from them. We're trying to get something to them.

Pastor Freddie C. Williams 

LightWay will host its third marriage emphasis evening in July for a few dozen couples. They try to do this every quarter so couples can invest in their marriage while enjoying a catered meal. The evening helps couples befriend other couples and now draws numerous couples to a hotel conference room. 


Doing anything they can for a Charlotte that needs more churches


Williams, a former Army veteran and college football player, and his wife are raising four children while planting the Converge MidAtlantic congregation. They’re particularly designing the ministry to serve unchurched people between the ages of 25-50. 


God has repeatedly shown that new churches are one of the best ways for people to deepen their faith and more fully follow Jesus. Yada found that after finishing her Ph.D., she joined LightWay’s launch team. 


Related: See dozens and dozens of other churches that launched around America. 


During the pandemic, she and the Williams family were in an online Christian community. But as soon as she could, she let Williams know she wanted to help in any way the church needed. 


Her zip code in Charlotte has more churches than the community that LightWay has embraced. Seeing new and greater opportunities to serve Christ around her church’s area excites her. 


“The area in which LightWay is placed specifically needs it,” she said. “That’s why God has called pastor Freddie and his wife to plant in that specific area.”

Converge's 10 districts have committed to deploying 312 church planters before 2026. Read more inspiring church planting stories and learn about the goal to send out 312 church planters in five years. 

Ben Greene, Pastor & writer

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

Additional articles by Ben Greene