1) "Contemporary worship" is not contemporary. It is better termed "Baby Boomer-style" worship, since the Baby Boomer generation (those born in roughly 1945-1967) is the generation which created it. Post-Baby Boomers are creating and recapturing other styles; in fact, "contemporary" worship is really just worship that was contemporary 30 years ago, as opposed to 500+ years ago (as with "traditional" worship). It's no more contemporary than Gregorian chant, and we ought to stop referring to it as such.
2) Baby Boomer worship is largely devoid of Christian symbols. By getting rid of stained glass windows (which tell the story of Jesus and his Church), robes and stoles (which help root the Church in a theological tradition), the liturgical year (which helps root us in Scripture and the salvific story of Jesus), and traditional hymnody (which connect us through music to those saints who have gone before as well as to others who share this hymnody in the Church Universal), as well as other symbols, we sanitize worship of some of its most Christian elements. We thus miss opportunities to teach who Jesus is and who we are in him. One of the most shocking aspects of seeing Joel Osteen on television (other than inadequate theology) is that the cross has been replaced with a rotating globe. Very telling.
3) Baby Boomer worship is extremely exclusive. If I don't know the latest praise band "hit", I simply can't sing it. No music is offered for my education; I simply see the words projected on a screen. I am therefore invited to stand and listen as others sing, while I cannot. That's more concert than worship. If I am not already immersed in the Baby Boomer worship subculture, I am excluded.
4) Many incorrectly believe Baby Boomer worship to be the answer to the decline of the mainline Church. I attended a meeting a few weeks ago at which a United Methodist bishop (gently) chastised those gathered for continuing to sing older songs, such as "How Great Thou Art" (odd, considering that particular song is relatively "contemporary" when compared to the works of, say, Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, or Fanny Crosby). His point was that these songs, produced by earlier generations, simply did not speak to a 21st century population. He failed to show what was so dated about lyrics such as:
It is not mainline music which has resulted in decline; it is theological uncertainty, missional lethargy, evangelistic malaise, and institutional compromise which is killing us. We need leadership in these areas, not in the remaking of our hymnody.
"O For A Thousand Tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace!"
"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood."
"Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was long but now I'm found; was blind, but now I see!"
"Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia! Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia! Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!"
"O make me thine forever; and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love for thee."
"When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died; my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride."
"O Love divine, what has thou done! The immortal God hath died for me! The Father's coeternal Son bore all my sins upon the tree. Th' immortal God for me hath died: My Lord, my Love, is crucified!"
"Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; weep o'er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save."
"Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word; I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord; thou and thou only, first in my heart, great God of heaven, my treasure thou art."
If we teach the gospel faithfully, as we pledged to do in our ordination vows, these songs can and will come alive for Christians of any century. Poor teaching is no excuse for replacing quality texts with choruses containing less challenging lyrics.
5) The quality of Baby Boomer worship songs is generally poor. I freely admit to being a music snob. I regularly listen to the songs of the greatest songwriters of the past hundred years - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Brian Wilson, Carole King, George Harrison, and others. The latest Baby Boomer worship hit pales by comparison. Let's be honest: much of what passes for "contemporary Christian music" doesn't stand up to these great writers. Every now and then, there's a good song. But, by and large, it's awfully bad.
This is to say nothing about the poor quality of most praise bands. Again, I plead snobbery. I have heard few (if any) praise bands which can compare to the instrumental mastery of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or the Who. If you're going to rock it up, do it well - or, please, don't do it.
Here is a link to a post by John Stackhouse entitled "Chris Tomlin’s Worship Songs: We Have Got to Do Better".
I am an advocate of "indigenous worship". Use the gifts and graces of the folks who are part of your congregational fellowship. But don't necessarily reject the practices of traditional worship, which have much to teach. Too often we confuse "traditional" with "traditionalism", two terms which are not synonomous; slavish devotion to things past is not the same as embracing the best of what has gone before. Surely we can be "current" while still recognizing the timeless power in a worship style and in music which has praised God powerfully and inspired the Church through the ages to be her best.
Worship done well that remains Biblical, Spirit-led and Christocentric is always, by definition, relevant. May we strive to do and be our best.