I'm a pianist for a contemporary church also. I've been playing for my church for 30 years but I'm trying to improve my playing. My problem is that I really don't know that much about music theory and I tend to either get bored or confused by typical music instruction. It seems like it's either far below what I'm already playing by ear, or it's way above my head. I can read treble clef pretty good and some of my playing is with Fake Music (Melody line + base chord, which I normally play octaves and step up and down towards the oncoming chords as I'm playing.
What I really would like to play is black music. I'm white and my church is mixed. We have both genres of music in our assembly. I've just not been "successful" at playing for all genres. I grew up on country & pop music, so all my BEST attempts to play the chords and have the jive sounds of black gospel comes off sounding sort of Rock-ish.
I've also got a big problem with the "upbeat". My whole mind and body almost has seizures trying to go "upbeat" versus DOWNBEAT!
Recently we've had a keyboardist coming to church periodically. He plays keyboard while I play piano. I don't play at all when he plays the black style, because the two styles don't harmonize at all together and I can't seem to find anything to play "with" that style.
The songs they sing are "Never would have made it"; "Sometimes you have to encourage yourself", "Be blessed my brother", "Nothing else matters", and so forth.
Do you have any advice to help me?