The question is really asking, where does responsibility fall for looking after those who need help in our society? Should we expect the government to look after us?
As a Christian I would like to pose another question: do we believe in a sustainable community where individuals care for each other, where there is a ‘thick’ quality of interdependence rather than a faceless system at work?
The opposite of social responsibility is consumerism which, in its purest form, sees everyone consuming based on personal choice and looking after themselves.
I believe that street pastors can complement local authority services and they can ease the pressure on hospital admissions and emergency treatment (and this does have an economic value). More than this, however, they are demonstrating that as human beings they take responsibility for other human beings. When we practise biblical compassion we are building a stronger society, regardless of deficits or credits in welfare spending.
This FAQ and its answer is taken from Faith on the Streets (Hodder & Stoughton, 2014). The book is available from local Christian bookshops, Amazon and other online retailers.