Other denominations use "deacons" in quite different ways than we. For some, being ordained a deacon is a step in the process of ordination as a priest or pastor. (I think that's a process of Roman Catholics and Methodists.)
For Presbyterians, deacons are lay people elected by the congregation and retain that title for life.
Indeed, Brian, you are correct. The term "deacon" has a whole bunch of usages in the church.
I suggest that the usage in the context of minister of Word and service (Stephen and the others as the exemplars) is the context in which AIMs, DMs and deaconesses all serve (we can get a whole new thread on deaconesses vs sisters religious, but let's not go there right now
I'm not one to rush the church into "new" ideas of ministry, so I would be happy to see us start with the proverbial "magic wand" and make AIMs and DMs into deacons by title and service, and from here forward only create new deacons.
As to the ordination of deacons, while an admirable goal, I am not sure we in the ELCA at least are ready to restore the threefold order of ministry, even if it is Confessional. Let's get used to deacons and then move forward in the discussion (long overdue) of ecclesiology.
In that discussion, we can determine if we want only a permanent diaconate, only a transitional diaconate, or a combination of both. Our ECUSA friends have both, depending on one's bishop and his/her attitude toward the diaconate. In the UMC, the diaconate is, for the most part, transitional to the presbyters (elders, as they are formally called). The RC and, IIRC, the Orthodox churches, use a combination of permanent and transitional.
In some synods, there is a liturgical diaconate in place. I question the appropriateness of these synodical rosters (especially when I see synodical deacons vested as such while seminarians serving in a seminary chapel outside of their synod). At the same time, the deacon has traditionally been the servant of the bishop (the reason why only the bishop lays hands on a deacon at ordination), so maybe it is ok for synodical rosters.
What I think we are all saying in this thread, and elsewhere, is that we Lutherans in North America still haven't come to grips with what it means to be the church and how the Confessions, as well as tradition and Biblical authority, speak to us on the practice and formation of ministry in the church.