Elders and Deacons belong together, their offices complement each other, their tasks, though distinct, have the same purpose: building the Church of Christ.
It is interesting to note that both elders and deacons are ordained to their respective offices with the use of the one same Form. (You can find it on pages 1004 – 1006 in the Gray Psalter Hymnal).
The Form stipulates that the Elders serve the church by “governing.” The deacons serve by “showing mercy.” Those are distinct tasks. But both offices thus serve the same people. And the purpose is the same: building the church. The Form says regarding both offices: “God our heavenly Father, who has called you to these sacred offices … so prosper your ministries that his church may increase and his name be praised.”
The Form also has a common charge to the congregation to be used in the church-service in which elders and deacons are ordained. The congregation is urged to “... recognize in them the Lord's provision … sustain them in prayers …and acknowledge them as the Lord's servants among you.”
This unity between the two offices has practical value:
The two segments of the Council should consciously work together. At no time should elders feel superior to deacons. It is not a good sign that, generally, elders are older than deacons. Elders should be nominated and elected for their gifts. Deacons, likewise, should be elected for their gifts. Those gifts will normally not change. The same degree of wisdom is need for both offices. The bodies of elders and deacons will both profit from the presence of members of various ages.
Cooperation between elders and deacons will probably be even more profitable in an individual setting.
Where the number of elders and deacons is about the same, each district can have both an elder and a deacon assigned to it. The elder and the deacon of that district can then work together to serve their members. They will consult together, they will pray together, they will assist each other, and alert each other to needs and opportunities of service. Though even in this setting confidentiality needs to be respected, specific needs will be rare.
It should never be heard among us that the office of deacon is “less spiritual” than that of elder. The Form says that the deacons “demonstrate the care of the Lord himself.” It adds, “they are called to speak words of Christian encouragement." It also states that deacons show “that Christians live by the Spirit of the Kingdom, fervently desiring to give life the shape of things to come.” I could not think of a finer full-orbed statement of Kingdom vision.