I do not know how big you and your hands are but unless you are up for playing in the NBA, I would suggest a short scale (30") bass. It is much closer to the guitar you are now used to playing. The extra 4" seem to make a LOT of difference in playability.
Musicians Friend has a Rogue "Beatle Bass" knock off for about $230 that is pretty good. I have one. They also have an Epiphone equivalent for about $300. Those are both 30" scale.
They also have a Gibson SG style with a 30" scale (probably the best of this short scale list) for $690 ... and an "open box" one for $550.
Of course Fender is the classic manufacturer but they start at $500 and go up from there and they are the 34" scale.
To me the freedom of the familiar scale length allows for more freedom of playing during worship. As to what kind of sound you want - that is up to you. I prefer a darker tone so as to not compete with other instruments in the mid and upper ranges. You are laying a foundation for everyone else to build on sonicly.
Personally I'd recommend sticking with a full size bass - short scale can sound OK, but can also be a bit flabby because the strings lack tension.
I'd probably look at something from the Squier Classic Vibe range, assuming they're still in your price range. Precisions are simple and can sound nicely growly if that's your thing. Jazz basses have smaller necks, which makes them easier for us guitar players, and are nicely versatile. The Classic Vibe range have been generally excellent instruments, and will likely have good resale value.
Are you running direct to PA? If so, it may be worth trying to pick up a purpose designed bass DI box or one of the cheap modelers to give it a chance of sounding reasonable.
I expect it will go through the PA. When our bass player left, he took his amp with him. Fortunately we have two giant subs in our set up, so we should get some decent low frequencies. Thanks for your help. I'll start looking. I'm not a huge guy, and I've thought about short scale, but I have decent sized hands for my size, so I'm not too worried.
If you're an acoustic guitarist then you may not be aware that bass amps and speakers create significant tone shaping, which is why I'd strongly recommend a purpose designed bass DI unit, even if it's only a cheap Behringer BDI unit.
You will want to get (eventually) an amp. That will require you to sit for some time in a music store trying out various amp/speaker combinations. As Toni said, they shape the sound a LOT. the rig we have at our congregation is a Beringer Ultra head with a GK speaker cab. It sounds REALLY GOOD!
You might think you can find a bargain online but I definitely recommend you make your purchase from
a real store in your area. You may have to pay a bit more but it is worth it. Also, don't rule out
buying a good used instrument.
Second-hand will definitely make your money go further - I think Toni is right that you will benefit from some kind of preamp. I'm currently using a Zoom B3, which I'm very happy with.
You should be able to get something like that and a bass that looks good, feels comfortable and plays in tune to the 12th fret and beyond for $500 or less. A quick search shows the Palen Music Centre up the road from you in Joplin and there may well be other options more locally. There are some amazing deals online but there is a lot to be said for a place where you can try the instrument before parting with your money.
I took a trip through the snow last night to Palen Music. They didn't have a lot, but they offered good service, information, and their prices matched amazon or musicians friend. They also price match. Of what I saw there they they recommended, they had an Ibanez Sound Gear for $250 and a Toby Deluxe IV for $250. Also, I found used locally an Ibanez TR 600 1997 for $300 and in good shape. This one interested me the most, but since I don't play yet, any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.
There's some info here:
Demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KjWIUNBlWE
That sold for $250 in 2006. They were apparently MIJ in '97, and will likely be an excellent instrument with active and passive volume/tone controls, a slender jazz style neck and lightweight body. Given those choices (and considering I'd normally choose MIJ instruments over MIA for tone, quality and playability) I'd grab the TR600 while you can.
That bass in the link is the same color I'm looking at. I don't love the color, but I'll take a guitar that sounds and plays well over just the color.
I bought a Zoom MS-60B MultiStomp that I use for recording that I really like. A must if you're going direct.