Elders and Deacons, and all who sit in the pews, essentially have the same identity in Christ. We are the children of God: saved by grace, justified and sanctified, new creations, the body of Christ. But as we apply our gifts in the service of God we recognize different callings. Reading from Acts 6 – the traditional reading for the formation of a diaconate, we see a division of labor and use of gifts.
Remember that Paul’s calling was as a missionary – to "testify to the Gospel of God’s grace" (Acts 20:24). He would work in a community and start a church, but his calling was not to stay and shepherd, but to eventually move on to do more evangelism. So in his absence he would appoint/train Elders. Speaking to Elders, in Acts 20:28, he tells them to “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Elders are overseers of the church.
Back to Acts 6 – Peter, an apostle and essentially a overseer of the Jerusalem church, is held accountable for lapses in care for the flock (some of the Greek widows were not being cared for) so they appoint other men, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit (note the direct correlation between these two things), to service. They call Stephen and others to serve and minster, be the hands-on manifestation of God’s love. Peter is free to continue preaching and teaching. With the laying on of hands and with prayer (familiar to us in ordination), they are called into service. God bless Peters and Stephens - our Elders and Deacons.
from joint Elder Deacon meeting 3/6/16