While elders are the shepherds of the flock (congregation), they are primarily focused on the spiritual needs of the members. Deacons were established in the first century church when a physical need was identified. Our deacons head up specific areas of physical needs within our congregation as well as our outreach efforts.
Acts 6:1-4 (NKJV)
1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.
3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;
4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
Seven men were chosen for this work, however, a congregation should not feel they are limited to only seven men as larger congregations will require more men to head up the more needs of more members.
Acts 6:5-6 (NKJV)
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.