Here’s how I would try it - but keep in mind, I’m a COMPLETE noob. I haven’t touched particles or anything like that, and I’m not sure I even understand the question.
The camera position is static, right? Or at least during the time of the lightning sequence?
Model a small section of the lightning bolt, then duplicate it, and parent each duplicate to the one in front of it, like a chain. Make the material how you want it with the emissive and radiant or whatever. Use the animation to offset 1 frame. You may have to adjust the length of each segment to be just right for each frame, or only have the lead segment travel its own distance in each frame.
Start the scene with the lightning bolt out of the frame when you get to the frame you want the lightning to start, and use the “direct” curve to make the lead segment appear instantly where you want it. Each subsequent frame will have each subsequent segment show up in the same place. Use the smooth (bezier) curve for the rest of the animation until you get to the end, where you’d use the direct one again to move the lead segment out of the frame.
Mix in some motion blur, and maybe even some funky shader ramps for neat effects, and I think it would look cool. You could also tweak the time element of the animation to “speed up” the frames.
Reading this over, I may have over-reached my abilities - both in terms of Blendering and explaining. Apologies if so.