I would say, either a fender blues jr/hrdlx and a boss multi fx unit. After becoming familiar with the different types of effects and signal chain, you can then become a snob and build yourself a pedal board of single units.By this time, you will also know what you need for the style of worship you play.
I have a zillion pedals on a huge board that is always changing. I also have a boss gt 10 for the in a rush days. Aside from getting 85-95% of the tone as the BOOTIQE stuff, they are simply agreat deal. The routing of the GT 10 and quick tweakability are 2nd to none. I am personally excited about the new GT12; I will surly be getting one.
You can run into an amp, or FOH. I ALWAYS run the fender clean preamp (when FOH) with pedals in the loop - MI audio blue boy deluxe, classic distortion - very usable tone. I dare say that a tele with the BBD is one of the most usable rigs for moden worship.
Also, the GT 10 allows for a .8 delay with the added FX1 and FX2 being sub delays - PERFECT for modern P@W.
You have the rest of your life to spend big bucks on gear.
If you have any questions, please pm. I would be more than happy to discuss pedals and rigs in attempts at you making right moves, thus not blowing $.
I'm about 2 years into playing in the worship band at my church. We're pretty "cutting edge" as far as worship goes. I went into this whole thing not having a clue, but have learned a ton from a few guys with a lot of experience in worship oriented gear. As a couple people have said, it does sort of depend on your style of music and your audience and, of course, how much money you want to spend. This is what I currently play with each Sunday:
1. Get yourself a good guitar. I found a USA Telecaster on Craigslist for about $600. In my opinion, the Tele is the most widely played guitar in worship music and it really doesn't pay to play on a cheap guitar unless you have to. Worship music is largely about TONE and a beginner guitar won't be able to deliver. I learned this lesson from experience.
2. Get yourself a nice tube amp. I went with a Fender Blues Jr. and it sounds fantastic. You can find them if you look around anywhere from $300-$600. Tube amps will give you a warmer, richer tone than something that is solid state. If you've got a bit more money to spend, a ton of worship guitarists use the Vox AC30 (including Chris Tomlin's guitarist and of course The Edge from U2 who owns 30 of them, seriously.)
3. Effects - here's where it gets interesting. Some guitarists will use a multi-effects pedal just for simplicity. That's fine for some folks, but I think you sacrifice some authenticity and tone with the all-in-one type pedals. I got rid of my POD and moved into the realm of buying individual pedals and couldn't be happier. Here's what I'm running right now on my pedal board. If you were to purchase pedals, I'd recommend purchasing your pedals in this order just based on use. Again, just my opinion.
1. Overdrive - I use a Fulltone OCD overdrive pedal, but the Ibanez Tubescreamer is almost the standard. Fulltone makes some other nice overdrive pedals as well.
2. Tuner - the Boss TU-2 or TU-3 is widely used. The PolyTune is also cool and the latest rage.
3. Delay - HUGELY important in modern worship music. I run the Boss DD-20 and am planning on picking up a Line 6 DL-4. Many guitarists have more than one delay pedal on their boards. These two pedals are affordable (<$200), but you can spend a lot more on some of the more unique pedals like an Eventide Timefactor or an Empress Superdelay. Other reasonable pedals that are good include the Boss DD-7, DD-5, and the MXR Carbon Copy.
4. Reverb - I use the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail (nano) and it does all I could ever want for normal everyday reverb. I also use a Line 6 Verbzilla which is cool for ambient reverb effects. One reverb pedal is sufficient for most players.
5. Volume pedal - these are relatively inexpensive. Most people use the Ernie Ball. You'll need one of these for producing swells.
6. Wah - I don't use wah a ton, but it's helpful for some songs (Mighty to Save for example). I run the standard Crybaby Wah. You can find these used for under $100.
7. Clean boost - I use a boost pedal just to boost when I need extra volume. I picked up an Electro Harmonix LPB1 for about $40 new. There are probably better models out there, but this one was cheap and it does what it's supposed to do.
Other stuff -there are plenty of other miscellaneous pedals out there that will give you some really cool sounds, but they definitely should be purchased after the pedals listed above. You can go as crazy as you want with these extra pedals or choose to avoid them altogether.
Rotary - I run the Boss RT-20. It's cool for a rotary / leslie sound.
Tremelo - a lot of people run the Boss TR-2
Phaser - for something inexpensive, I see a lot of people using the MXR Phase90.
Compressor - most guitarists have a compressor and run it sometimes non-stop just as a tone-shaper. I'm not completely convinced yet of it's value, but it does make a difference in your sound. I use the Boss CS-3, but honestly don't like it much. It's noisy. I've been considering dumping it and going with the Signa Comp which is a little more money, but a nicer pedal in my opinion.
Synth pedals - these pedals are really cool; you can make your guitar sound like an organ and do some other cool things. They are a bit pricey, but still neat. Our other guitarist uses the POG.Chris Tomlin's guitarist uses the Micro-POG.
Octave - there are many different brands of octave pedals out there. I don't use one, but may look into it somewhere down the line.
Hey, I hope this helps. There are tons of varying opinions on effects and amps and guitars out there. This is just mine. I've found that this setup works very nicely for me. Good luck!