A new study investigating the disconnect between young people and traditional religious institutions in times of uncertainty has shown that most Gen Z or people aged 13 to 25 have no links to any specific religious community and are instead creating self-driven pathways of faith for themselves using both religious and non-religious sources.

The study looked at the reasons why members of Gen Z would opt for what the researchers called "Faith Unbundled" and what solutions can be put forth to address this.

"An analogy may help to illustrate Faith Unbundled. Think of how music streaming services like Pandora or Spotify unbundle albums: a person can enjoy specific tracks without buying the whole album," researchers at Springtide Research Institute wrote. The new study was titled "The State of Religion & Young People 2021: Navigating Uncertainty" and was released this month.

The researchers explained further how Pandora or Spotify empowered users to create their own playlists by "unbundling" albums and collections of songs from different artists or albums and creating their own "bundle," versus listening to music the way the artist intended it to, in his or her own album. Springtide Research Institute authors said, "In essence, young people with unbundled faith will partake in religion, including practices, beliefs, and communities, to the degree that suits them, with no formal or permanent commitment."

The research pulled on data gathered over an entire year's worth of surveys, with 10,000 polls asking questions about Gen Z-er's beliefs, practices, behaviors, relationships, and qualitative interviews about the same themes. The study found that members of Gen Z who identify with a religion are not in fact members of any spiritual or religious community. Moreover, a significant portion of them were constructing their own religious or spiritual pathway through "unbundling."

According to the Christian Post, only 68% of respondents in the study who identified as Protestant said they were a member of a spiritual or religious community. Respondents who said they were Roman Catholics saw a drop among those who said the same at 56%, and among Mormons, the figure was 55%.

Respondents who said they were "just Christian" not only rejected affiliation with every organized Christian group but also said they were a member of or participated in "some kind of religious community" (52%). The other 48% said they did not participate or served as a member of any religious groups.

An overwhelming 58% of white religious young people said they were not involved in any religious community. Like-minded Hispanics showed a slightly lower number. Meanwhile, 59% said they did not participate in a religious or spiritual community. In terms of race, only black Americans and Asian Americans had a slight majority in those who said they did participate in a religious or spiritual community.

Additionally, the survey showed that while a majority (71%) of Gen Z respondents consider themselves to be religious or spiritual, they prefered to confide in their family and friends first instead of religious institutions during challenging moments in life. Up to 49% said they turned to family, 55% said they turned to friends. The poll also showed that they would be as likely to turn to "no one" as they would turn to someone from a religious community.